Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rampant India Bashing by US Media

American media, especially newspapers have some kind of a hatred towards India. They seem to take vicarious pleasure in publishing all kinds of negative aspects of India. Completely unrelated incidents are compiled together to make the world's most peaceful country look like a haven of violence, civil unrest, communal riots etc. Since arriving in the US in October 2007, I have been reading several newspapers online and Dallas Morning News in print and everywhere when it comes to India they seem to take lot of pleasure in battering our country.

I read an article by a journalist of Indian Origin which should actually make US government and establishment hang its heads in shame. But the writer has skillfully compiled facts about another totally unrelated incident in India and written a fantastic story which makes India appear in bad light. No doubt the writing and editing skills of these journalists are admirable and their ability to cover up the negatives of their country. I used these two paragraphs to give a vent to my frustration about the media and now I will come to the point.

The first article titled "Royal care for some of India's patients, neglect for others" written by one Somini Sengupta, who seems to have forgotten her roots and changed sides after getting employed by New York Times. In the article she does the case study of one Robin Steels, a 60 year old car dealer from the US who travelled halfway around the world to Bangalore, India for a bypass surgery. The reason he had to travel was that he couldn't afford a heart surgery in the US.

The fact that the American government doesn't have any system in place to care for the country's middle-class and poor has been completely ignored in the article. It is well known across America that if one doesn't have health insurance and seeks medical care the hospitals will rip him apart and make him indebted for the next three life times. Though America prides itself as the world's richest nation; sole superpower; a nation with the largest number of millionaires; et al, the country doesn't have the heart to care for its poor. There is absolutely no mechanism in the government system which assures healthcare at a basic minimum cost to the country's poor and middle classes, who can't afford health insurance. The middle classes who don't have health insurance can afford to travel to third world countries like India where quality healthcare is available at fraction of the cost.

Steels spent $20,000 for his treatment in India. It would have cost him over $200,000 if he had the same treatment done in the US. Isn't it shamful that a country which claims to be the richest in the world but can't take care of its sick and diseased? But no, it appears to me that US media thinks it is fine for poor Americans to travel outside seeking quality healthcare at affordable costs.

Instead of highlighting the lapses and lacunae in the American healthcare system the writer takes a completely different course and targets the Indian healthcare system. She takes vicarious pleasure in highlighting the hooch (illicit liquor) tragedy which happened in Bangalore couple of months ago and says that Indian government has failed to equip its hospitals with ventilators and high-tech gadgetry to save lives of the poor. Indian government not providing high-tech expensive gadgetry in hospitals which provide FREE TREATMENT to poor people is a crime. But American government not doing the same is not so much of a crime. This seems to be the dominating sentiment in the article.

Another article I read was in today's Dallas Morning News titled "Discontent over land, jobs sweeps India". In this article the writer, again a New York Times Correspondent, and this time thankfully NOT a person of India origin, compiles three isolated incidents related to completely different issues and paints a picture of politicially and socially unstable India. She talks about unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, where terrorists funded by Pakistan (probably indirectly by the CIA) have been wrecking havock on innocent civilians since 1983 and the recent caste-based agitation by the Gujjars in Rajsthan, which happened 1,200 km (800 miles) away in the capital city and the Gorkhaland agitation in West Bengal. These are internal issues of India and don't have any consequence outside of the country. India has problems like every other country in the world and we will resolve it within ourselves. The last thing we would want is for American media to carefully hand pick disturbing news about India and highlight it and create a bad image of our country.

Indian media doesn't take pleasure in battering America for dumping Genetically Modified rice on African nations. Nor does we take pleasure in battering America for the torture in Guantanamo Bay. In 5,000 years of recorded history India has never gone to war with any nation, we have defended ourselves from invasions. And America one of the youngest nations in the world has waged several wars, all for money, oil and to satiate egos.

Media or journalists are theoretically known as the fourth pillar of democracy, the society's watchdog, force working towards betterment of society, etc, etc. But media people and organisations across the world seem to have forgotten why they were created. Instead of working for a better world and better society, media seems to focus on furthering political agendas and promote vested interests.

I wish American media focuses on development of the world and making sure that at least the 21st century will bring about an end of the concept of third-world nations. And at least during this century peace, education, health and security is something that every individual in the world can enjoy.


Jithendra said...


It is indeed very sad to hear this. We, Indians have been so gentle and adjusting to even the worst of enemies. In fact we do not know what is enemy ism. On the medical article, I am confident that India are much far advanced and better than any other country in the World. Pot holes exist everywhere, we need to resolve and it's an internal affair. American Journalists commenting bad about India's internal matters is indeed hurting. They will learn a lesson sooner or later.

Jai Hind!

Navin Ragade said...

I completely agree your views in this article except that i want to add one point. The points made about India's healthcare system caring for the poor and India not meddling in other internal affairs of other countries is well made but it's high time India does not rest on such laurels. Its high time Indian citizens take accountibility for their behaviour, their actions when they are in India. Indians love to behave when they are say in a disciplined country such as Singapore but the same Indians spit,dirty India, violate traffic rules, do all that they wouldn't dare do abroad. And when questioned on why this behaviour, the most common answer i have come across is "ask them to change, we will change" or "ask the govt. to improve this and that and we will change" etc. Indians love to pass the buck on such issues and there's no social responsibility. The same pride of being an Indian which we love to show off when we are abroad or when foreigners visit us as tourists, is completely lost when we are in our own country...Isn't this double standards? If only India pulls itself several notches on these social aspects, we will be miles ahead of arrogant nations such as the United States.

Sahasi said...

@ Jithendra,
I agree with you, there are problems in every nation. It is only that some choose to focus on positives and others on negatives. I am lucky that we Indians focus on positives and creative life even in the most horrible conditions...

Sahasi said...

@ Navin Ragade,
I agree with you that we Indians are equally responsible for the kind of image our country has abroad. Every Indian must first start thinking about the country and then the governments will automatically rally round. It is our responsibility to elect a good government and ensure that they do their job. Just passing the buck wont achieve anything.
We need more people to think on these lines and automatically India will pull itself up by several notches...
Thanks for the comments...

Kaiser Soze said...

Hi Sahasi..
To begin with i must say i hve lost faith in the US media after bush came to power..clearly Gore had won if it wasnt for a *certain news channel* broadcasting the news that "Oh Mr Bush has won!!", nevermind that i stray too much. But very well done Sahasi. It is people like this Sengupta woman who irritate me. Pseudo Indians. Pretentious dumb @#^%s who dont give a rats ass. Sorry about my language...but hey i have a blog of my was a result of alcohol and a discussion with my friends about a few issues concerning women. Visit at your own . But keep up the good work mate...

Kaiser Soze (oh i liked the movie Usual Suspects..and obviously this is an my blog and u will understand why i need one)

(lol...the was surprised to see that alcohol can do wonders, in terms of voicing opinion)

Sahasi said...

@ Kaiser,
Thanks for visiting and the comment. I agree with you, US media has become anti-India. And yes there are several like this reporter who don't care about India so long as their pockets and bank accounts are full.

shivoaham said...

Dear Ramesh Shankar you are being too harsh on Srinidhi who was only trying to show that there are people in the US media who are not necessarily well-wishers of India. On the contrary, as Srinidhi specifies it, they take isolated events to put them together and paint a very negative picture of India. You probably overlooked some points, Srinidhi did say towards the end of his article that like all the other nations India has its own problems and very truly these are internal matters. The international media has no right whatsoever to distort the facts and present them to a public (like the Americans) who are highly ignorant about anything that happens outside their home state or the US. I totally agree with Srinidhi and Ramesh you too are right in saying that one should learn to criticize oneself. The Indian media has been doing this since ages and continues to do it brilliantly. In my opinion the freedom enjoyed by the Indian media is unmatched anywhere in the world. Look at the French President who simply made sure that those who criticize him or had a different opinion than him are out of the French Television Group (the biggest network in France).
Moreover, there is a deep truth in Srinidhi's article and all Indians should feel concerned. There is an anti-India lobby in all major countries of Europe and the US. It is difficult to point out who are the people who form this group. Nevertheless it is relatively easier to do India bashing than doing China bashing. The number of negative reports shown on the European televisions in the last ten years outnumbers the positive ones by miles. China bashing is rare. It took lot of courage from the pro-Tibet activists to bring to light what the Chinese army has been doing in Tibet for the past forty years. Militarily and above all economically China is so well placed (everywhere, you name a country, the balance of trade is in China's favor) that no one can openly criticize China. The pro-China lobby is so strong and so well organized that as a group Indians do not stand a chance anywhere as they cannot stand each other and very bravely friends like Ramesh Shankar take pride in self-criticism.
On the other hand, instead of crying foul it would be handier to put pressure on the Indian government to open cultural centers around the world and put in place competent people to pass on the message of India to the coming generations worldwide, the message of peace and harmony. It is absolutely necessary to paint a balanced picture of what India was and what India is, what the world can give to India and what India can give to the world. I am sure that most of the Indians (except the likes of Mittal) who live outside India do sacrifice their family lives and the comfort of being at home to fulfill their respective goals. Do not forget my dear friends that it is always very difficult to create some place for yourself, especially if you are on foreign lands. So let us unite friends. We are all well-wishers of India so let us understand each-other and work together sincerely for a better India and consequently for a better world.

Sahasi said...

@ Satyan Jha/ Shivoham
Well said. I agree with you 100% we must unite and present a strong, united and prosperous India to the world.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

First of all thanks for submitting this post to the best three blog posts competition.

You have passionately made a case against bad press for India.

But what really bothers me more is why you are so worked up about some moron writing about us in some foreign newspaper. Is the view of India defined by these people.

I think most Indians suffer from a colonial mindset where they take foreign media and analysts more seriously than the local ones.

Stop being paranoid or stop reading all that junk in the american media. It is people like you who feed those writers in the first place.